Thursday Morning:

They search me, they trace their hands up my sleeves to ensure I’m not hiding anything. They ask what’s in my pockets before forcing me outside, into the back of their car. I feel eyes watching me from every window, the immovable sense that I’ll be some gossip for when their husbands and kids get home.

They take me to A&E. They follow me to the desk and again, everyone’s watching me, trying to work out what I’ve done to have police escorting me. They put me in the special room I’ve seen so many times before. For criminals, for people being abusive or violent, for drunks. We sit there for hours. On the hottest day of the year, no windows, the heat rising and I can’t remove my sweatshirt because they’ll see what I’ve done.

It’s a blur. They ignore me, they talk amongst themselves, listening to their radios and commenting on the accident that’s being reported and go on to talk about RTA’s they’ve been to where they’ve had to scrape people off of the road.

Thursday Afternoon:

It goes on for hours, and then they’re gone. More people come and eventually go again.

“What happened this morning before the police brought you in?”

“I don’t know, I don’t remember.”

Again, and again, the same forms, the same questions, the same cold, blank expression from the person asking me, the same tiny box of tissues being handed to me in an attempt to clean up the mass of tears, and the unshakeable feeling that this is never going to end.

The hours pass. They clear the A&E bed and room of all equipment so I don’t attempt to garrotte myself with a blood pressure pump, a nurse sits with me the entire time and closes the paper curtains so no one has to see me sobbing uncontrollably. I ask to go to the toilet, she follows me and tells me not to lock the door. I’m not allowed to use the phone. We return to the bed, she tells me I can sleep but I ignore her and sit bolt upright, watching the blue curtains for shadows approaching, waiting for someone to come along and tell me this was all a terrible, ugly dream.

Another doctor arrives. We go through the questions again and he asks what I want to do, I tell him I want to go home and he says that’s not possible, it’s not safe for me yet. He says I need to go to another hospital for the night, a secure mental health unit to be assessed properly before I can go home. I ask what the other option is, hoping there’s some way out and he answers simply –

“We’ll have to section you under the Mental Health Act.”

Thursday Evening:

I’m taken in the back of an ambulance to the other hospital. I can’t see where we’re going, I don’t know the hospital. I don’t know who I’m with and it all feels so, so wrong. We arrive at the hospital and start going through a series of locked doors, as many doors are locked behind me and the paramedics as are opened before us. All too soon, we’re there. Locked in.

They go through my bag, taking away my glasses and phone charger, they fill out more forms. The woman keeps telling me I’m really tearful when I’m sitting there still, completely numb and for the first time all day I don’t feel like crying.

The rest is a blur. I’m forced to sit with other patients in a lounge area because the dorms are locked. They offer pills I don’t know and I refuse them. I’m told I might be lucky enough to see a doctor for the assessment tomorrow. Eventually I’m allowed to sleep. In an empty room, with the lights on, and a opaque window that won’t open.

Friday Morning:

I’m allowed to see the doctor for my assessment. Except, it isn’t an assessment. They tell me I’m going to be OK, they nod enthusiastically as if I’m supposed to join in, they tell me my family’s supportive and that this was just a blip and that I can go home.

I leave the procession of locked doors to be the outside world, without any money, without my phone as it’s out of battery, without a single phone number or leaflet, or what I should do if it happens again and without the slightest clue as to what happened to me to cause the events of the previous morning.

The Birth Story

I’m gonna be cliché, I’m gonna be obvious, I’m gonna do the freaking BIRTH STORY.

Sorry if it’s boring, sorry if you’d rather not go there, but I’m sodding well going there anyway, baby.

June 2009. Wednesday afternoon, I’m five days overdue, I’m over the fact I’m ever going to give birth to this stubborn baby. I’ve eaten too many curries, I’ve walked fucking miles, I’ve eaten so much pissing pineapple my tongue feels as though I’ve been licking sandpaper for kicks. It’s OK, I’ll just stay like this forever, I’ll cope, I’ve gotten far too used to my maternity jeans to give them up anyway. It’s cool.

I’m walking to a midwife appointment about a mile away from my flat, my swollen stomach feels tight and achey, but I’m not being fooled into believing THIS. IS. IT , I’ve had false alarms already. I see the midwife, she pokes about for a bit and tells me I’m actually 2cm dilated. She gives me a “sweep”, and off I go, not entirely the wiser as to what is happening. I get Rob over, (we had split up at this point) he buys me dodgy chips which were AMAZING and writes down my contractions for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Everything stops at midnight, he goes back to his house, and I go to bed mightily fucked off.

Thursday morning, contractions, they’re back, they’re worse, much worse, so bad I can no longer coherently write them down. My phone is glued to my hand as I text updates to my close family and Rob. I don’t make a fuss and tell him to wait to come over again as I’m convinced it’ll all stop again. I somehow stick the evil TENS machine on my back, which I really don’t think does a bloody thing, and try to snooze. Obviously I can’t. I force myself out of my bed and shower, I even put some make up on, priorities right? It’s about 5pm, I still don’t let Rob come over because I think I’m being overdramatic. Pain. Tight crushing pain.

The early evening is a blur, I busy myself checking my bags and folding and re-folding tiny white vests and suits I can’t compute could be on my baby in a few hours. At 10.30pm everything is speeding up, Question Time is on TV, I remember thinking I liked David Dimbleby’s tie.  I have a huge urge to poo. In my infinite wisdom, I tell myself if I can have a poo THEN I will go to the hospital, ya know, to avoid any giving birth and pooing simultaneously scenarios, again: Priorities.

I’m sat on my toilet for about an hour and a half, I shit you not, I know people describe giving birth like having a huge, huge poo, of course this didn’t register to me at the time, in my agonised state, I had no idea my body was actually telling me to fucking PUUUUUSH YOU STUPID MARE, YOU DON’T NEED A FUCKING SHIT.

I’m in a complete state, why can’t I just poo?! Everytime I stand up from the loo, I have to sit straight back down again because I think I’ll shit myself, and I certainly don’t have the energy to clean THAT up. I’m still alone, I’ve told Rob to stay where he is until I’m on my way to the hospital and I’ll see him there. I call my mum and tell her what’s happening, I remember sobbing pathetically “I can’t do this!” and her helpful reply being “It’s a bit late for that now, isn’t it?” Thanks mum.

Friday 12am, I try again on the toilet and there’s blood, lots of blood. Oh, the penny drops, fucking FINALLY. I call the hospital and tell them I’m on my way, my brother rushes over to pick me up, he tells me to wait so he can bring the car closer, I glare at him and grab my bags and stomp to the car down the road anyway.

Maniac driver brother, speed bumps, traffic calming fucking measures, you BASTARDS. Hospital, lots of panic, I’m in the delivery room, I’m on the bed. MOTHERFUCKER I HAVEN’T CALLED ROB, hang on the midwife tells me, we just need to check you over quickly. “Jesus, you’re nine centimetres, you need to start pushing, now. Well done, girl.” Yes, yes that’s great, someone fucking CALL ROB.

He somehow appears, out of breath, he’s amazing, he holds my hand, he helps me drink my water, water, I need water. Pain, searing burning blinding pain. It’s too late for any proper drugs, the midwife gives me the gas and air to try, I have a couple of puffs, it does NOTHING, I throw the useless thing on the floor. Pushing, pain, so much pain, nearly there, almost there, I can’t think, I’m not there, my fingernails are dug deep into my thigh as I push. Time speeds up, just a few more, he’s halfway there the midwife says. “Is he OK? He’s OK, yeah?” I gasp, panicking. “He’s fine, one more, big push.”

The pain heightens to unspeakable levels, I feel like I’m being split into two. One more, I push, where the energy comes from I have no idea, I push and there’s release, there’s relief, there’s my baby.

02.26am Friday morning.

My tiny pink baby, being laid on my chest, covered in blood and strange white stuff I still don’t know the name of. It’s the single most surreal feeling I’ve ever known. I gasp, cry and laugh at once. Rob kisses my forehead, he’s crying too, and laughing. My baby, our baby, he’s here, he’s actually here.

And there’s something else there too, overwhelming, chest tightening, all-consuming love.

Everything is right. Everything is as it should be.

He’s here. Noah is here.